Last summer, the brakes on my 1998 Subaru Legacy failed while driving down a steep mountain (thankfully my partner and I survived mostly uninjured). I tried everything I could think of to slow down, but it was a 12% grade hill and we were picking up too much speed for anything to be effective. After about two minutes of driving 70mph down the hill, we reached a flat surface and I intentionally crashed my car into the side of the mountain and a ditch to stop us.
Although I obviously don’t drive this car anymore, I’m curious as to why this happened and if anyone has ideas about an explanation. I had this car serviced often, and had taken it in shortly before the crash. The mechanics paid attention to the brakes specifically and found that the brake fluid was in a good state, my brake pads were working, etc. They said I had no issues and the car was safe and had at least 50,000 miles left on it (at the time it had about 198,000).
Prior to the brake failure, I had observed no issues whatsoever with the brake system. The brake light was not on, there were no squealing or grinding noises, no scraping, no leaking fluid, no burning smell while driving, and the brake pedal was not soft or spongy.
Just before the brakes failed, I had been driving on a gravel mountain road. It was pretty well-used and maintained, but there were a few bumps along the way. The brakes failed about two minutes after I had left the gravel road and returned to the paved hill. This is the only event that was out of the ordinary, and I wonder if that rocky terrain affected the brake system.
No mechanic has been able to give me an answer as to why this occurred and have called it a “freak accident.” While my current car works well, this was a very traumatic experience and I want to do anything I can to prevent it from happening again, as well as be aware of signs I could have missed that indicate brake problems. Thank you for your help!